With a name that translates to “let’s go,” it’s no surprise that Andiamo in Haworth has brought Bergen County’s hungry and enthused diners to this nondescript building at 23 Hardenburgh Avenue year after year, all the while accumulating many awards and accolades along the way.

For owners Don and Linda Dickstein, along with their son Alan, Andiamo has been a labor of love. Through the restaurant they have made many friends along the way, which is evident the moment anyone walks through the door and are warmly greeted by Alan or Don. If you’re a first-time patron sitting at the bar, you’ll soon see that they treat each guest as if they’re family.

But people don’t just go there for a handshake and conversation. They are there to eat. With Chef Linda whipping up traditional Italian classics, as well as many unique creations you rarely find elsewhere, Andiamo has something for everyone, and does not disappoint.

Whether you choose to dine at the bar, in the dining room, or on the outdoor deck, the first thing you’ll need is wine or a cocktail. With a wine list perfected throughout the years, there truly is a bottle to match each patron’s palate. For those who prefer a cocktail, the Andiamo Lemonade or house infused pineapple vodka martini are staples, although the bartender’s weekly experimentation of new concoctions always satiates the curious cocktail connoisseur. Recently, the gluten-free cucumber vodka martini piqued our interest, cool and refreshing, but still with enough bite to let you know that this martini means business.

If you’re more of a beer fan, Alan is always rotating in new and unique drafts, with a mix of local brews as well as some imports.

There is no shortage of options on Andiamo’s menu. It’s imperative to have their fried meatballs at least once a month. Topped with marinara and a dollop of warm ricotta, it may not be the lightest dinner offering, but it sure is a delicious one. The panino for two—a homemade garlic toast topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, tomato, red onion and basil—is also a delicious appetizer not found on many menus.

If you’re more of a salad person, the panzanella salad, with fresh mozzarella, capers, kalamata olives, tomato, arugula, cucumbers and croutons is a great light option, but it’s hard to miss with any of Andiamo’s other salad offerings, either.

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All three dining areas have the same menu, and that allows everyone to try Andiamo’s specialty pizza pies. Whether it’s the Harley Pie, a white pizza with spinach, Portobello mushrooms and roasted red peppers, or just a simple Margherita, these pizzas rank amongst New Jersey’s most delicious.

If you’re looking for pasta, you’ve come to the right place. Whether it’s Andiamo’s play on angel hair, served with fresh mozzarella and tomato, or the rich linguine carbonara, you can truly do no wrong. The cheese ravioli and homemade lasagna are sure to happily satiate the mind and the stomach, too.

Although I typically skip chicken on restaurant menus, the chicken parm is great, as is the chicken “country style,” which is chunks of sautéed chicken with sweet sausage, peppers, onions, tomato and fresh herbs.

There are plenty of great seafood, steak, and veal options as well, including the Andiamo Cioppino with fettucine and the honey citrus salmon, as well as the prime aged New York strip and the Veal Alan, layered with roasted red peppers, spinach, melted mozzarella and mushroom marsala sauce.

At Andiamo, though, the real stars are the weekly specials. Each week, Linda crafts a list of unique items, ranging from appetizers, entrees and desserts to burgers and special pizzas. You’ll find them written in classic fashion on chalkboards throughout the restaurant.

While some specials stay in line with traditional Italian flavors and dishes, it would seem Chef Linda also uses the specials as her own creative culinary outlet. Sometimes, you’ll see a fusion of flavors on a plate such as simple American and Italian, worked together perfectly in only the way an experienced chef knows how. Other times, Linda will experiment with worldly flavors, such as Japanese or other Asian influences.

The wonton Tuna tower, appearing occasionally on the menu, layers tuna tartar between crispy wontons, and you’ll find yourself eating them almost as if they were nachos with the wonton serving as the chip.

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Then there’s Andiamo’s excellent meatloaf.  Crispy on the outside, it oozes deliciously gooey cheese smothered in sauce and more cheese. It’s served with mash potatoes that really don’t even need to be there. The meatloaf speaks for itself, and when available at Andiamo, it sells out very quickly.

At Andiamo, it’s all about food, friends and family. The service is professional and consistent, with many of the same employees having worked there for years. It seems like everyone knows each other here, and this makes for a comfortable experience from the moment you walk in to the moment you’re giving Don a hug or handshake on your way out. It’s clear the Dickstein’s are passionate about serving their community.

That leads us to the Annual Andiamo Motorcycle Run. Year after year, hundreds upon hundreds of motorcycles line Hardenburgh Avenue and the surrounding streets, and after a quick breakfast and singing of the National Anthem, depart for a ride across the GW Bridge down to the World Trade Center and back, culminating in a party that each year, raises large amounts of money for local hospitals as well as law enforcement.

If you live in northeast Bergen County, you’ve probably been to Andiamo time after time. For the rest of you, however, it’s worth making the trip. Being in business for many years, they must be doing something right, and it’s not just the meatloaf!

Brandon Goldstein is associate publisher of  BC THE MAG.

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